Less than a year after Supreme Court invalidated a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, a Republican Congressman is offering a bill that would make it more difficult for married same-sex couples to receive legal recognition.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) has introduced the “State Marriage Defense Act,” which would prohibit the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples who live in states that don’t acknowledge their union (for instance, a couple who gets married in Iowa and then moves to Alabama). The bill would undermine an Obama administration ruling that recognizes all legally married couples for federal tax purposes.
The anti-gay Family Research Council hailed the new bill in a statement released today.
The State Marriage Defense Act is a response to the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court struck down as unconstitutional Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for all purposes under federal law as the union of one man and one woman. The plaintiff in Windsor had entered into a marriage with a person of the same sex that was recognized as legal by the state in which she lived, so the Court said that the federal government should also recognize the relationship as a marriage.
However, the Court was silent on the status of same-sex couples who may have obtained a civil marriage in one state, but who live in a state that recognizes only marriages of a man and a woman. The Obama administration has implemented guidance for some federal agencies that ignores the marriage laws of states that define marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time, other federal agencies defer to the laws of a person's state of legal residency to determine marital status for federal purposes. The State Marriage Defense Act would address this administrative chaos with a simple rule that tells the federal government to respect state determinations of the marital status of their residents when applying federal law.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued the following statement:
"In recent months, we have witnessed the growing serious consequences of redefining marriage. We've seen wedding florists, bakers, photographers who have been hauled into court, fined and even ordered to violate their religious beliefs by participating in same-sex weddings. And last month, a federal judge cited same-sex marriage in his decision striking down Utah's law against polygamy. Another consequence has been the Obama administration's chaotic actions through federal agencies that demonstrate total disregard for the 33 states that have not redefined marriage.
"Family Research Council strongly supported the Defense of Marriage Act, and disagreed with the Court's decision in Windsor. However, if the federal government is required to defer to state determinations of which of their residents are 'married,' it must defer to those determinations in all fifty states - not just those that have redefined marriage.